Law protects Washington state health care workers from hazardous drugs

April 20, 2011

Tumwater, WA – A new law requires the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries to adopt requirements for handling hazardous drugs (.pdf file) in the health care industry.

Senate Bill 5594, signed into law April 13 by Gov. Chris Gregoire (D), mandates that L&I develop rules consistent with recommendations from NIOSH.

Washington is the first state to require health care employers to take precautions such as proper ventilation or using protective equipment to prevent exposure. Without these measures, workers may be at risk for harmful effects such as cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, and allergic reactions, L&I said in a press release.

In related news, NIOSH, OSHA, and accreditation and certification organization The Joint Commission issued a letter on April 4 to health care employers outlining appropriate precautions to prevent exposure to hazardous drugs.